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SMSL HO100 Review (Headphone Amp)

Rate this headphone amplifier:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 1 0.6%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 5 3.2%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther

    Votes: 32 20.4%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 119 75.8%

  • Total voters
    157

ampguy

Member
Joined
Jun 12, 2022
Messages
19
Likes
9
This looks great, with balanced input. I just wish it had passthrough for use as a preamp in some of the rooms I might move it to. The Topping L50 has this, and I don't mind the increased price ($229 or so), but kind of waiting to see the long term reliability of the L50, as I'm on my 2nd PA5 right now. Any other good HP amps with balanced input, pass through output (balanced is a plus) in the < $300 range with nice remote and display, don't need (or really want) BT.
 

Nathanael

Member
Joined
Jun 22, 2020
Messages
15
Likes
4
Does anyone know if there are also somewhere measurements for the unbalanced headphone output? If they are also excellent for all impedances it might be a very good universal headphone amp for 134 Euro (here in Germany).
 

staticV3

Major Contributor
Joined
Aug 29, 2019
Messages
1,652
Likes
2,322
Does anyone know if there are also somewhere measurements for the unbalanced headphone output? If they are also excellent for all impedances it might be a very good universal headphone amp for 134 Euro (here in Germany).
The 4.4mm out on the HO100 is not a "true" Bal out. It's just there for convenience. Performance is identical between both outputs.
 

plikestechno

New Member
Joined
Jul 1, 2022
Messages
2
Likes
2
How much of this budget stuff with XLR in and outs and 4.4" trrs outputs is truly balanced? Even with non-budget stuff?

Barely any. At a certain point common sense is needed with somebody making this comment in every thread for every product with XLR and 4.4" jacks.

True balanced would mean a transformer at each channel input and output so obviously most of these smaller, cheaper boxes aren't going to be truly balanced. I take more umbrage with 2 and 3k dollar products proclaiming to be balanced when they're not. At that price point, every connection should have a transformer if you are advertising it as balanced.

That said, I don't think staticV3 owns the product. One can't say the performance is identical in real life.

When I first got it, I first tested with a single ended path all the way through. RCA outs on the Topping D90 to RCA ins on the HO100 and 3.5mm jacks. Great until I went to high gain and then it got a bit noisier and I hit it's headroom pretty easily with my HD650s.

Then I tested the same path through the trrs out with my trrs aftermarket cable. Sounded slightly better and I could push the volume better. Is it just a difference with cables? Maybe.

Then I went XLR ins and 3.5 out. Much better noise floor but not much change for headroom. I still wanted to see if the TRRS connection could push things further.

Finally. I went full XLR and TRRS. Sure the path may not be truly balanced but the output was a lot quieter in the noise floor and I could push it much louder. Not just different.

So whether truly balanced or not, using the XLR ins and the 4.4" TRRS out, the supposedly balanced path definitely sounded the best.

So maybe companies should call it grounded or three pin or something to that effect because while it isnt truly balanced having xlr and trrs jacks and an internal grounded power supply does improve the sound.
 

staticV3

Major Contributor
Joined
Aug 29, 2019
Messages
1,652
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2,322
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